British Authors in Poverty, Scarlett Johansson Wins Novel Lawsuit, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories:

A new survey of writers working in the U.K. conducted by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society showed a 29 percent drop in authors' salaries between 2005 and 2013, placing many writers well below the poverty line. (Guardian)

Self-publishing platform Smashwords has released data revealing a decline in the effectiveness of publishing free e-books on sales and promotion. While free digital titles available on the site are downloaded more often than books requiring purchase, the report notes that the number of downloads relative to previous years has decreased dramatically. (GalleyCat)

Scarlett Johansson recently won a defamation lawsuit against French novelist Gregoire Delacourt, whose book portrayed a character described as the actress’s look-alike in a "hurtful and demeaning" manner. While Johansson originally sought €50,000 (nearly $70,000), a Paris court ordered the novelist to pay €2,500, or about $3,400. (Business Insider)

A first edition of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, in which the author criticizes capitalism and its overemphasis on the importance of personal property, sold last week for forty thousand dollars. (Los Angeles Times)

Journalist Jerome Corsi of conservative news outlet World Net Daily reported recently that author Dinesh D’Souza’s book, America: Imagine a World Without Her, was pulled from shelves at Costco. Corsi alleges that the decision to remove the books was politically motivated. Meanwhile, the author’s lawyers claim that Google has been inaccurately displaying information relating to screenings of his film based on the book. (Hollywood Reporter)

A documentary recently released on DVD depicts the life and work of the late San Francisco poet and filmmaker James Broughton, a predecessor of the Beat movement. (New York Times)

Mary Dougherty has been named the new director of the University of Massachusetts Press in Amherst. She is only the third person to hold the position in the press’s fifty-one-year history. (Publishers Weekly)

A Spanish company whose online self-publishing platform allows users to crowdsource funds for their books is expanding to include English-language authors in the United States. (Digital Book World)